chapter  2
31 Pages

The Future of Bureaucracy and Hierarchy in Organizational Theory: A Report from the Field

WithRosabeth Moss Kanter

A principal tenet of modern social and economic theory has long been that a large proportion of the production and distribution of goods and services takes place through formal organizations constituted for this purpose and that these formal organizations are characterized by bureaucracy and hierarchy. In the modem bureaucratic-hierarchical organization, level or status became the basis for compensation as well as authority, and the sets of statuses or grades comprising the hierarchy also tended to define the pathway for a career within the organization, from lower to higher positions. For several decades, at least since the end of World War II, organization theorists have been pointing to the dysfunctions of bureaucracy and hierarchy. Organizational sociologists have identified many of the conditions under which organizations handle uncertainty by seeking collaboration, and these conditions increasingly hold not only for smaller, more "resource dependent" and "environmentally constrained" organizations but also for large, powerful corporations that once dominated their environments.